Roadblocks to Change #2 — Fear

If we’re going to discuss road­blocks to change, and I am, then there’s really no point in going any further with­out address­ing the single biggest thing stop­ping you or me from making changes in our lives — fear.

Fear Paralyzes

Of course fear does serve a basic survival purpose. If a car is charg­ing towards you at 60 miles per hour, I think it’s good to be afraid. It gives you a jolt of adren­a­line and hope­fully makes you get out of the way.

But the prob­lem is our lives have largely moved away from day to day survival and our instincts do not seem to have fully adapted. Fear of more complex situ­a­tions mainly results in paral­y­sis. As a result we can fear many things that do not in fact threaten our lives or even our comfort­able exis­tence.

Fear is an emotional reac­tion. It can be hard some­times to recog­nize when you are acting out of fear rather than a ratio­nal assess­ment of the situ­a­tion. Most people will face some level of fear when setting out to change their lives in any signif­i­cant way. It’s impor­tant then to take the time to step back from those feel­ings and get some perspec­tive on them.

Putting it in Perspective

Try to define what your fear actu­ally is. People are often described as scared of change. But it’s not really change itself that’s the issue. It’s what might go wrong. What you might lose. So iden­tify what it is that’s actu­ally got you worried.

Now that you know what it is that you’re scared of, you can start to work out a solu­tion. First assess it honestly. Is it really a risk? If the worst you can imag­ine happens, will you actu­ally be hurt by it, or just a little embar­rassed?

Assum­ing it is in fact some­thing that could do real harm to you, your life or your rela­tion­ships, how can you mini­mize that risk? Plan­ning is neither excit­ing or sexy, but it is a great way to meet your fears and bring them down to size.

Facing My Fears

I ran a little exper­i­ment on G+ the other day to test out a theory I was read­ing about. The theory was backed up by my totally non-scien­tific poll. But that’s really not the point. The point is that to seed the test I posted the three things I dread the most. And the inter­est­ing thing is that those three things can all be boiled down to fear of fail­ure and rejec­tion.

Of course that is exactly the sort of fear that will imme­di­ately grind any thought of change to a halt. So if I going to seri­ously look at making changes in my life (and that is sort of the point of all this), that’s what I’m going to need to address.

I have to first recog­nize that a fear of fail­ure and also that people will laugh at or reject me, stops me from doing things that I might other­wise do. Clearly my fears are exag­ger­ated. People are highly unlikely to actu­ally laugh at me (well not to my face anyway). And if they do, why on earth would I care? As for fail­ure? Well I’ll point you back to what is really the first blog I wrote in this series where I came to the logi­cal conclu­sion that fail­ing is a good thing.

Fear of rejec­tion is a little differ­ent. There are a small number of people whose rejec­tion would absolutely hurt me. The logi­cal thing to do there is to move slowly and make sure to prop­erly commu­ni­cate what I’m doing and why to the people I care about. I’m not great at commu­ni­cat­ing. That’s one of the areas I’ll need to work on.

I think for my next post it might be time to take some of this theory and apply it in a more prac­ti­cal fash­ion. In between I may post some new photos, I haven’t done any in a couple of days.

Other Posts In This Series

Are You Fail­ing Enough

Road­blocks to Change #1 — Lack of Energy

The Myth of Willpower 

About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of eoghann.com. You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?

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